Most people think of drug or alcohol addiction and substance abuse problems as their own stand-alone mental health disorders. However, the nature of addiction is far more complicated than that having both physical and mental components. Additionally, issues of addiction and substance abuse can also coincide with or co-occur with other mental health disorders. This co-occurrence of conditions is known as a dual diagnosis. Having a dual diagnosis is far more common than many people would think. However, much about dual diagnosis is unknown or confusing to those people, even recovering addicts who are so afflicted.
Those who suffer from dual diagnosis have a documented mental health (mood) disorder and a drug or alcohol addiction. While this condition of having co-occurring disorders is common, many people do not fully understand what it means. Many assume that a mental health disorder always causes a substance abuse problem or drug addiction, but the reality is that the opposite can occur as well. In some instances, a substance abuse problem can cause a mental health disorder. And, of course, while the two disorders do occur at the same time, they each require individual and independent treatments. If you or someone you love is suffering from co-occurring disorders, call Drug Rehab Palm Bay FL at (321) 558-1502.
Mental health disorders and drug addictions can interact with one another in two distinct ways. In the most common cases, mental health disorders precede the development of an addiction or substance abuse problem. In these instances, substance abuse occurs as a way in which the person struggling with their mental health disorder attempts to treat their symptoms. This may be by taking more of their prescription medications than is prescribed or taking it in a different way than recommended (crushing pills and snorting them, melting medications down for injection, etc…). Or they may use alcohol or illicit drugs to try to treat symptoms on their own in an attempt to self-medicate.
On the flipside, a substance abuser or drug addict can develop a mental health disorder as a result of their continued substance abuse. Many people develop depression and anxiety as a result of substance abuse. Additionally, extreme paranoia, frequent mood swings, and hallucinations are common side effects to many drugs that are abused. These side effects can become long-term problems even after drug use has been stopped and may be permanent in some cases due to changes in internal brain chemistry and damage to the structures of the brain.
Nearly any mental health disorder can co-occur with a substance abuse problem. However, in treatment programs some conditions are seen more frequently than others.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (also known as OCD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by continuous obsessive thinking and compulsive actions and behaviors that accompany those thoughts. Many sufferers of OCD have specific routines and rituals they must follow precisely or they feel extreme panic and anxiety and feel as if the world is going to end if their routines are not followed. If you remember the saying from childhood, “step on a crack, break your mother’s back,” obsessive compulsives are the people who may believe in such superstitions and will compulsively avoid any and all sidewalk cracks even to their detriment.
Many sufferers of OCD develop addictions to drugs that have a calming effect on the mind and body. The can include opioids or narcotics (including heroin, codeine, and OxyContin), alcohol, or depressants such as Xanax or Valium. Because OCD sufferers are so anxious and panicky much of the time, they may also suffer from insomnia and develop a dependence upon prescription sleep aids such as Ambien.
Depression is another commonly noted co-occurring mental health disorder due to the sheer number of people around the nation who suffer from it. Depression is characterized primarily by intense and prolonged periods of sadness, feelings of helplessness and worthlessness, fatigue, and physical aches and pains.
Many people who suffer from depression use alcohol as a crutch to numb their symptoms or to make social interactions bearable. They may also abuse drugs that produce the opposite effect such as cocaine or crystal meth as these drugs produce an energetic and at times euphoric state. However, people with depression who use such drugs often worsen their depression due to the extreme nature of the crash when coming down off of these types of drugs.
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